Whitaker's veteran victorious
Sunday 19 December 1999
By Mary Gordon Watson at Olympia
By Mary Gordon Watson at Olympia
19 December 1999
For a second successive year, Britain's John Whitaker took the World Cup qualifier here yesterday. Riding the evergreen Virtual Village Welham this time, they performed magnificently to a full house.
Nine of the 20 starters jumped clear in the first round and, with Whitaker drawn first to jump off, it looked all against him. Cool as ever and accurate to a millimetre, he had charted the perfect route, and Welham belied his 19 years with apparently minimal effort, finishing clear again in 36.79 seconds following some superb turns.
Whitaker then suffered several nerve-wracking minutes as top-class rivals chased his time and tried to leave the obstacles standing. Only Germany's Lars Nieberg went faster, but at the expense of a pole, while only three others were able to jump clear.
Holland's Carrie Huis In't Veld, riding her neat and careful Iceberg, and Switzerland's Beat Maendli on the leggy Pozitano came closest. Despite their contrasting styles they finished on identical times of 37.02sec ahead of Belgium's Ludo Philippaerts with RBG Opus Sept.
Britain's Geoff Billington, with Virtual Village It's Otto, and Robert Smith, riding Senator For The Best, both made the jump-off, but Otto put in a quick stop after passing the exit for a disappointing three faults, while Smith's mount lowered two poles.
For Whitaker, the 20 points won in this, the 22nd FEI World Cup were his first in the annual series, shooting him from nowhere into 23rd position. In two previous attempts in Berlin and Amsterdam, he failed to qualify, but there are seven more preliminary rounds before the final in Las Vegas in April.
"The course suited him," Whitaker said, modestly, of Welham, who has had a superb season winning three Grands Prix from just eight outings. They were lucky to take part at all, after two fences down in Friday's qualifying contest, in which Whitaker's brother Michael failed to get through.
Germany's Carsten-Otto Nagel, 10th yesterday, remains on top of the Western European league standings with 48 points while In't Veld has risen from ninth to second. Whitaker's late challenge gives British showjumping a boost but he will need to follow up.
Latest in Sport
Didier Drogba went absolutely mental in the Chelsea dressing room after Blues were given the Premier League trophy
Jurgen Klopp favourite to replace Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool if he's sacked
Premier League 2015/16 kits: Confirmed and rumoured strips from Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and others
Sam Allardyce sacked: West Ham wait just a few minutes after final game to axe manager
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger sets deadline for Theo Walcott contract talks with Liverpool keeping a close eye on his future
- 1 Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
- 2 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 3 Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...